Safe, usable sidewalks are crucial to
the abilities of people to shop, meet
friends, go to work or seek medical
care—especially if they do not drive.
Thanks to the skilled attorneys on the
AARP Foundation Litigation team, the
state of California will begin removing
barriers that have made it difficult for
pedestrians to access crosswalks and
California owns the roadways that
become “Main Street” as they pass
through cities and towns. Many are
dangerous. More than 10,000 of the
intersections there do not have curb
ramps. Many sidewalks have broken
pavement. Dangerous objects protrude
into the path of travel.
After a 7.0 magnitude earthquake
devastated Haiti on January 12, AARP
Foundation raised $1.4 million to
help elderly earthquake victims there.
Thanks to an online fundraising campaign and rapid responses generated
by social media, the Foundation raised
$877,000 for the Haiti Relief Fund in a
fraction of the time it would have taken
with traditional appeals. AARP matched
the first $500,000 in donations dollar-for-dollar, and the UnitedHealth Group
Foundation matched the rest of the
contributions with its own donation.
As a result, wheelchair-bound Ben
Rockwell was forced to ride in the
street, or trip over steep curb ramps.
Trees and signs that extend onto sidewalks injured vision-impaired Dmitri
Belser; he also bumped into turning
cars at intersections where there are no
Funds raised for the AARP Foundation
Haiti Relief Fund were provided to
HelpAge USA to support the on-the-ground work in Haiti of its parent
organization, HelpAge International. As
a result, food, shelter and medical care
were provided to thousands of elderly
victims, many of whom were too frail to
walk—or wait much longer—for help.
When the California Department of
Transportation (Caltrans) refused to
remove the barriers, AARP Foundation
Litigation joined with two disability
rights groups to challenge the decision—and won. More than $1.1 billion
will be allocated over 30 years to make
moving around communities safer by
enhancing sidewalk safety.
The $1.4 million raised by AARP
Foundation’s Haiti Relief Fund helped
support on-the-ground efforts to alleviate
seniors’ distress following Haiti’s